Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Congratulations Bethany and Andrew!

Some background: For a couple of years, I had the most fantastic carpool ever.

When I moved to Portland in 2003, I got a job an hour south in Salem. One problem: Chris and I owned one car and his job was significantly north of where we lived. Moving close enough for him to walk would have added a half hour to my commute.

Dan: Transportation Wonk, Bon Vivant

Luckily, through carpoolmatchnw.org I found Dan. Dan worked in Salem and had a car. Not only that, since his job involved encouraging "transportation alternatives," he was so thrilled to get a carpool mate that he was willing to do most of the driving during those first few months that I didn't have a car. Eventually I got to the top of the Prius waiting list and helped out more with driving. Shortly after this, we found Glenn, then Allison. We were four Portlanders shlepping to Salem to work for State government. We clicked immediately and had as great a time as someone can be expected to have on an interstate at 7am.

Glenn and Sweetie Laurie
Glenn and his sweetie


Four is a good number for a carpool. Everyone gets elbow room but no one has to drive too much. When Glenn was contacted by Bethany, I was initially skeptical about how a fifth would fit in. Despite my concerns, it seemed fated. Bethany lived around the corner from me, so I could not say it was inconvenient to pick her up. Her car only smelled a little like wet dog, and only when it rained. Most importantly, by adding Bethany we got BETHANY, and our happy four became a very happy five. (Rather than getting too gushy, let me just say that Bethany is smart, funny - even at 7am - and a great cook.)

Our carpool was many things to us: entertainment, solace, a bad-pun testing ground, therapy.* Our group went through numerous personal changes during our time together, including more than one break up, a wedding, my struggles to get pregnant, and Bethany's decision to leave Oregon to pursue a relationship with an old friend who inconveniently for the rest of us happened to live in South Africa. We were sad to say good bye to Bethany, but supported her decision to move across the world for love.

Bethany and Andrew: cute, no?
(photo credit: A&B)

Since she moved away, the rest of the carpool has kept in touch with Bethany, and she's visited us on her U.S. vacations. Earlier this month we got an email from Bethany with the subject "We're Engaged!" We, her Portland carpool mates, were thrilled and used the happy news as an excuse to get together to eat, drink and take pictures. And speaking of pictures, see this charming evidence of Andrew's proposal. Oh, and the carpool's attempt to show Bethany how much we love her and how glad we are that she and Andrew will be getting married.

Andrew rushed down to the beach to write this
before taking Bethany down for a walk
(photo credit: A&B)

We took about 47 pictures in an attempt to get us all looking in the same direction with our eyes open.

Attempt 5
Dan's eyes aren't closed, he's just had too many of Glenn's chartreuse martinis.

In case it isn't clear what our little sign says:
Congratulations!  Bethany and Andrew

We love you and miss you and are so thrilled for your happiness!

*We also stalked one of the other cars we routinely saw commuting with us. The young man, with huge mutton chops, driving notably under the speed limit in a lexus coupe (and later a red Toyota Echo). We dubbed him "sideburn guy" and speculated about his job, his life, his choice of facial hair. Once Dan and I even followed him in the slow lane all the way to his exit. We didn't exit when he did, but we agreed that if we saw him on the way to work we'd follow him there. We never did see him heading to work after that, and eventually we lost track of him.
(But not before I snapped a fuzzy cell phone image of him as we sped by)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


It's been one hell of a weekend.

Friday: Saturday:

I know I am biased, because she's my daughter, but I will love this picture forever. It feels like a portrait of childish exuberance.

Some friends who were busy getting married and having a baby last year rented out a summer camp for the weekend to celebrate with friends and family. There was a parade.

The parade, with costumes, musical instruments, hordes of children, was great. Almost as good was the hour and a half I spent in a field reading the latest New Yorker while Ada napped in a nearby cabin.


Near the elevators at my doctors' office.

To be fair, Chris and I did spend part of Friday and Saturday discussing how many embryos to have returned to my uterus. I even found cell reception at the top of a hill and talked to the doc on call about the decision. But it came down to Sunday.

How many eggs the doctors recommend depends on several factors: (1) no previous failed IVFs (nope); (2) good quality eggs (yup); (3) having more eggs than you need, so you can freeze some (yes, a few). Six of the seven eggs looked good, which is great, but made it hard to tell we had a good chance of achieving a pregnancy with only 2 eggs implanted. Two might not be enough, but the chance of multiples goes up with 3.

Did I want a baby or fear twins more? In the end my emotional response remained the same, but my logical mind won out. We had two eggs implanted. Was it the right decision? Who knows. All we can do now is wait, and hope.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Crampy but Sanguine

Today I went in for my egg retrieval. Despite being crampy and tired now, the worst part might have been getting up and out the door by 6:20 AM in order to get to the appointment by 7. Getting Ada anywhere before 7 is a struggle. Lucky for us we just took her down the road to Monkey Boy's house. His parents fed and clothed her and sent her off to school. She was so happy to be with them she even hugged Ellen. (Not so remarkable except that Ellen worries that Ada holds back with Ellen.)

Right, back to the early morning activity. More than with most doctor appointments, timing was important here. 36.5 hours before the appointment I took a drug that induces ovulation (36 hours after you take it), so getting to the office in time to prep for surgery was key.

I came home, napped and then went to an important meeting. By which I mean, it was important for me to be there, but not actually important enough that it taught me anything of use. Except that a crazy ex-coworker just got a job in a state agency with which I sometimes work. Sad for me. (For those up on IVF or anesthesia, I didn't drive to the meeting. My father-in-law happened to stop by, so I talked him into driving me.)

Did I mention I'm crampy? Totally worthwhile if I can get pregnant, but a little annoying. Especially when Ada playfully tosses a book to me and it jabs me in the belly. (Note to self: hide the library book about the good pig who is loved by god and the bad pig whose life goes to shit.)

Appropos of nothing, a picture of Ada

I have not written much about this IVF round, and that isn't because I am not thinking about it. I am thinking a ton about it. (It is going ok, thanks for asking!) I just do not have much to say about it. I am nervous, but there is not much to write until I know the outcome. Which won't be for over two weeks. Or, there may be much to write between now and then, but not now. I just feel tired of this. I want another child, but I am tired of trying. Tired of thinking about it. The whole thing is not very conducive to blogging.

Speaking of which, my favorite blogs are funny or crafty. Since I am not feeling funny I'd better get crafty, and quick. I have about 300 projects stacked up. I need to get on that, and quick, to jump start my sense of personal accomplishment. That or a big raise would do nicely. (A girl can dream, right?)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Sitting on the Counter

He is five feet ten, built like a beer mug, and feels that most food tastes better with pork.

Larissa MacFarquhar
Chef on the Edge

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thankful . . .

. . . that this drum set lives at some other family's house.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Please Poop

Show me a tiger or show me a tapeworm, and I'll watch with equal intensity.

David Sedaris
April & Paris

Thursday, April 17, 2008

365 - Final Status Report

I did it. I took a picture a day for 365 days.

4/24/07 New Vistas
4/24/07 New Vistas

5/18/07 Hands
5/18/07 Holding Hands

6/8/07 Zoo Train
6/8/07 Zoo Train

My 365 project was both harder and easier than I had initially thought it would be. I really enjoyed taking pictures every day. It (please excuse the pun) focused my attention on what was important during my day. Some days it was hard to get a picture I liked, especially when I was in the office and not with my favorite subject. This led to pictures of my blackberry, craft projects or Chris looking bemused at 10:30 pm. For crafts, it was probably good - a regular photo album most certainly would not include pictures of things I made during the year, but now I have a little record of the clothes, toys and superhero capes I put together for myself and others.

7/21/07 Sheep Wagon
7/21/07 Sheep Wagon

8/22/07 Diving Helmet
8/22/07 Diving Helmet

9/26/07 chic train
9/26/07 Chicago El Train (camera phone)

Ironically, after a year of taking pictures with my little pocket camera, at the very end of the project I finally bought a nice camera. The past 5 months my little Sony has been half-broken. Maybe I dropped it one too many times, but it won't let me zoom. When I try, it freezes up. I am excited to use a camera with more whistles and bells. I sort of feel I earned the camera by sticking with the project for the full year. If I could keep it up with the Sony, the Nikon should really make me want to take pictures.

10/7/07 Pumpkin patch
10/7/07 Pumpkin Patch

11/11/07 Matching crazy hair dos
11/11/07 Matched Crazy Hair

12/17/07 Hats
12/17/07 Hats

One side benefit of this project is that it has opened me up to the possibility of trying other projects. The other day Susie and I were talking about families that gave up buying things for a year. One such family was profiled in the Oregonian recently. They decided they could buy things that ran out regularly (food, paper towels, toilet paper.) but not things that broke or wore out on a longer-term basis (toaster, clothes, birthday presents). Susie said a friend of hers tried it for three months, to break herself of the habit of shopping when bored. I am intrigued by the concept, but also scared by it. A year without buying? It is practically un-American, right? (Another reason to do it.)

1/3/08 This will be bunka's birthday card
1/3/08 Bunka's Birthday Card

2/26/08 Shows Nothing of the Fun Day
2/26/08 No Trace of Her Fun Day is Evident

I am not jumping into this kind of project just yet, but I am open to new projects, especially creative ones. I think for now I will start a 52 photo project. A picture a week is a bit more manageable than one a day. And now that I have my brand new camera, I have to keep using it, right?

3/16/07 Bacon-face, Day One
3/16/08 Bacon-face

4/3/08 Thomas
4/3/08 Thomas

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Milo!

My pals Stephanie and John just called to say that their baby was born today - Milo Conrad!

Milo weighed in at 8 lb, 9 oz, and by all accounts is adorable and charming. Or at least he will be after he gets over the shock of being born.

Ada was asleep when the news came in, but as she's been asking for weeks if John and Stephanie's baby has shown up yet, I am sure she'll be thrilled too.

Baby Milo, we are all very excited to meet you and are so happy you are here with us. See you soon!

Ada, declaring that she's very excited about Milo,
but that doesn't mean she will share her bacon with him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Apparently I wasn't clear

It happened again today - I got an anonymous comment from a parent annoyed at me for a post I wrote a year ago criticizing Baby Gap for marketing "skinny jeans" for toddlers. (Again with the anonymous comment. What is with that?) Apparently that post hit a nerve. I have gotten tons of comments and email from the humorless parents of thin children.

What these parents have failed to notice is that my complaint is NOT that jeans or other clothes are made for slimmer kids. Perhaps I was too subtle in my letter; my point might not have been entirely clear. Let me restate:

The problem is not the narrowness of the pant legs, but the marketing of sexy styles for TODDLERS.
Somehow, the people who know me (even those I have only "met" via our respective blogs) understood that I was horrified by the idea that adult styles are being marketed for such young children. Andy, who has a thin girl, commented that she needs the style but is nauseated by the name. This seems reasonable, given the way skinny jeans for adults are marketed - as sexy and body-baring. If the adult skinny jeans were marketed as good for thin people who have a hard time fitting into other pants, then I would have no beef with the label being used for kids' pants. As it is, the issue is about a style marketed as sexy for adults, and seeing that being sold for children.

If you have stumbled here by googling "skinny jeans for toddlers", I'm sorry if my post offends you and your bony baby. Feel free to buy whatever you want. Better yet, get your own blog and write posts about annoying mothers who foolishly don't want clothing companies marketing sexy toddler clothes. Bitching at me kind of misses the point.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Five Alive

Amy of Binkytown tagged me for this meme. And since she is (1) pregnant and (2) dealing with a sick family and still managed to fill this one out, I thought I'd give it a shot.

The rules, as I understand them:
1. Each player answers the questions about themselves. (I like talking about myself, so no problem here.)
2. Something about tagging other people and asking them to do this too. (I suck at this part of memes, so I am not doing it. )

Amy was all clever and made her answers fit her obsession with King Henry. I am tempted to fit all my answers to fit with The Wire, but then I'd start using "mos def" too much. Since I really enjoy mocking Chris when he uses this phrase, I can't really start saying it myself. Plus, thinking of a clever meme theme is just beyond me at this moment.

What I was doing 10 years ago (1998, so last century)

  1. Living in Chicago working at the best job I've ever had. Or probably will ever have. There's a topic for therapy, if I was in it now.
  2. Considering that it might be a good idea to get married to the man I'd been with for 8 years. For that story, see this post.
  3. Not thinking about how amazing it was that I did not get sick more, even though I rarely washed my hands after holding the metal pole on the El twice a day, five days a week.
  4. Feeling very annoyed that I'd been diagnosed with corneal neovascularization and had to wear gas permeable contact lenses. I hated those lenses, but now I deal by using soft contacts but wearing my glasses more often. And buying nicer glasses.
  5. Cursing under my breath at the guy hired to rehab the basement apartment in my building. The guy was the owner's cousin, and seemed to be dying slowly of emphasima as he worked on and slept in the apartment. The floors were thin enough and his coughing was bad enough that it kept me up at night.

Five things on my to-do list today

  1. Finish editing a 500 word "inside baseball" article for an industry newsletter that both gives some kind of interesting insights and does not insult the work of my committee. Hmmm.
  2. Remember to leave the house in enough time to pick up Susie and get to my doctor appointment.
  3. Remember to take my morning medication. This is harder than I think it should be.
  4. Remember to take my evening medications. Just as hard to remember as (3).
  5. Buy milk. Buy milk. Buy milk. Buy milk.

Snacks I enjoy

  1. Crappy packaged crackers with fake peanut butter
  2. Peanut butter m&ms
  3. Pocky Almond Crush
  4. Chocolate milk
  5. Tamari almonds (if I put this first you'd think I was trying to show you how sophisticated I am. Hopefully item 1 puts that issue to rest)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire

  1. Buy a lot more shoes.
  2. Hire someone to clean the house weekly. Er, daily.
  3. Pay the democratic candidates' campagn to promise not to call me. Better yet, have the candidates call Jenny instead. She has a big list of people she thinks may be obsessed with her, so why not Obama, right?
  4. Bankroll my brother-in-law's restaurant idea, but force him to open the restaurant in Portland.
  5. Speaking of restaurants, I'd take my friends here every week. It is not that it is so spendy, but with the focus on pork, if I went weekly I'd definitely need some massive health care to clear out my clogged arteries. Let me just say: Foie Gras Bon Bon.

Five of my bad habits

  1. I get annoyed very easily. I feel better knowing that my sister says she is too.
  2. Like Amy of Binkytown, I eat a lot more sugar than is good for me.
  3. I don't like calling people back. Or making dental appointments.
  4. I like being right a little too much.
  5. I know how foie gras is made, but wow did I enjoy that foie gras bon bon at beast.

Five places I have lived

  1. New York City
  2. Miami
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Portland
  5. Chicago

Five jobs I've had

  1. Catering slave. Good pay, long hours, crappy treatment, delicious food. It was totally worthwhile.
  2. Espresso slinger. Ok, scratch what I said before, this might have been the best job I ever had. The pay was low but really, there was no expectation that I be polite to customers. Despite this, tips were good. Or because of this, tips were good. (It was on a college campus, after all.) We didn't serve decaf, and were encouraged to openly mock people who asked for it. I got to play whatever music I wanted during my shifts. Plus I got a discount on coffee when I wasn't working, which made an espresso cost 12 cents.
  3. Research assistant. Low pay, no respect. Then again, my job was unionized, so I got to be a teamster. There was something comforting in that, like I could call on dock workers if I got in trouble.
  4. Federal Agent. After espresso girl, really the best job. And not just because I carried a badge. Years out of that job, I still haven't figured out what to do with the blue suits.
  5. What do you call it when someone overpays you to turn research into 2-page policy briefs? Oh right, independent consultant.
You want to do this? Great, go for it. Want to do it five times? Even better.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


At lunch today I walked to the Japanese grocery store conveniently located just blocks from my organization's Portland office. I assumed I'd get some prepackaged sushi, but was distracted by the hot cha siu bao near the meat counter. (Let's not ask why a Japanese market has chinese pork buns, let's just be thankful it does.) I grabbed three, plus two wasabi-laced shu mai.

Wandering back to the check out, I found a box of those terrible almond crush Pocky that I first started eating after Dooce's sugar-laced eloquence on the subject convinced me to give them a try. And some moto moto yama (spicy nori strips). And some rice crackers.

On the walk back I contained myself to the nori strips, which taste like wasabi-flavored paper. Why I like them is not entirely clear, but I do even as I marvel at the strange texture. Back at the office I gobbled up the bao and shu mai. I held out on the pocky for a good minute or two, but then succumbed, eating a packet of six delicious sticks. (Three more packets sit in the box, and poting this means I need to save at least one for Chris.)

My stomach is bulging. Three bao was more than I needed, and then I jammed those pocky in there too. Now the crackers are calling to me, asking me to ignore that I am not just not hungry, but actually sort of uncomfortably full. My solution? Leave the room. I've put the snacks in the side room with my jacket and scarf. I'm holed up in a windowless cubicle, thinking that I can block the deafening roar of the crackers. Until at least 2:15.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

3:29:08 (Portland) Manhattan

I believe it is essential, in a free society that finds itself threatened by a ruthless enemy, to distinguish between torture and something pretty irritating.

George Saunders
Y'all Torture Me Home

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

painting in my office, detail

You . . . you equivocating like a motherfuck.

Season III, Episode 5
The Wire

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Open Letter to My Body

Dear Body,

I know we haven't been on the best terms lately. I am big enough to admit that this is mostly my fault, though I hope you'll see your part in this whole thing. Yes, over the past few months, I have not been as gentle as you'd have liked. In what you might call a selfish attempt to get pregnant, I jabbed you with needles and swelled our ovaries with all those hormones. And yeah, you bore the brunt when the doctor took out those eggs and three days later put them back. Your distaste at the hormone injections was clear; the cramping and sharp stabbing gas made that pretty evident. The lumps in the buttocks were a nice touch, a subtle reminder that progesterone shots might not be your favorite part of our daily routine.

I have tried to make amends. The walks, the chocolate, the naps. I had hoped those would make up, at least a little, for what I have put you through. I hoped you would see that we were in this together, and help those embryos take hold inside you. I don't hold it against you that there was no pregnancy. I know no one has to do anything "wrong" for IVF to fail.

The thing is, I am coming to you to ask for help. I am trying again. No, I am not looking forward to the hormones and the stress, but I do want to get pregnant. You did such a good job with the pregnancy last time, I was hoping that you'd be willing to try it again. Just once more. I know it will be hard on you, what with the uterus stretching and increased pressure on the knees. But the labor was short last time, I gave you that, right? Help me with this and I promise not to complain about my hips shifting, or breasts growing then shrinking, or the waddle in my walk that I may never get over. I'll keep you moisturized, and maybe even get a manicure once in a while. What do you say?

Here's to a productive partnership,


This letter was inspired by Blogher's "A Letter to My Body" series.